In September 2021, the Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing Hub (RAMI) was launched by The Texas A&M University System to provide workforce development and invigorate the advanced manufacturing sector in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). The initiative is building a thriving presence in south Texas, with hundreds enrolled in short courses since the launch, with even bigger plans for expansion across the region.
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) in collaboration with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), two state agencies with respected experience in professional development, are offering training both in English and Spanish through the advanced manufacturing hub at no cost to residents of the RGV.
The program currently serves job-seekers who wish to pursue careers in manufacturing and provides training to employees of companies in the industry.
Trainees can receive instruction in occupational health and safety, process improvement, COVID-19 protocols, cybersecurity, heavy equipment and manufacturing, with expanded course offerings in the future. Online and on-site courses began in October with the goal of training a large-scale workforce in two years to meet the current and future needs of employers at the Port of Brownsville and the RGV area.
“As of mid-December, 178 people have earned certificates, with another 238 people registered across 20 different classes,” said Katherine Diaz, the regional ecosystem director for the RAMI. “We are continuing to build a robust catalog to meet industry needs and encourage new and innovative ways to expand the manufacturing business.”
The advanced manufacturing hub will also focus on providing access to unmet needs in manufacturing allowing companies to explore growth in other areas to further empower industry in the RGV.
“Companies are required to meet industry standards, which incur costs,” Diaz said. “Our hope is these costs will be alleviated when employers enroll their employees in our courses. The money that was once used for training could now be invested in other opportunities like upgrading machinery, or providing additional benefits to staff, or investing in smart or advanced manufacturing techniques.”
As the program continues to grow, Diaz said there are many short-term and long-term objectives planned for the future.
“Our next goal is to move into development of courses focused more closely on advanced manufacturing that aren’t currently included in our offerings,” Diaz said. “We’ll work closely with industry to assess their needs and fill educational gaps.”
As the initiative sees more industry success, Diaz said it will be important to move into schools to create awareness of the region’s advanced manufacturing opportunities and career paths available to high school and college students.
“We want to better understand what school districts are doing in the area of manufacturing and how we can partner with them to support both training and credentialing needs,” she said.
To accomplish these goals and expand the program, the advanced manufacturing hub team is collaborating with the Port of Brownsville to establish a larger on-site training facility. The building is tentatively scheduled to open in summer 2022.
“Texas A&M is making a long-term investment in the Rio Grande Valley,” Diaz said. “We want to support growth of the manufacturing industry in the region, which is vitally important to Texas manufacturing and the industry as a whole in the United States.”
Existing and new courses will continue to open throughout the year. Visit the Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing Hub website to learn more.
“As a state agency, TEES — in partnership with TEEX — is uniquely positioned to offer robust training opportunities in manufacturing to the people of the Rio Grande Valley — at no cost, thanks to the Texas Legislature,” said Dr. Cindy Lawley, associate agency director for workforce development and regional divisions at TEES. “We are proud to lead this innovative initiative and look forward to galvanizing the RGV workforce and helping people improve their employment prospects and their lives.”